OTISFIELD — As the Otisfield Planning Board continues its work on an ordinance for future solar farms with a footprint of more than 1,100 square feet, the town’s Board of Selectmen is expected to extend the solar project moratorium approved by voters during a special town meeting earlier this year.

Officials had hoped a final ordinance would be ready to be presented for vote at Otisfield’s annual town meeting scheduled for June 25. But during a planning board workshop Tuesday night  they communicated that getting the eventual ordinance done right is more important than getting it done by sticking to a rigid schedule.

The 180-day moratorium was approved at a special town meeting back on Feb. 24. The select board is authorized to extend it twice for three-month periods, and according to its Chairman Hal Ferguson, it is poised to so when it expires in August, if necessary.

There is one pending application in town for a new solar project from a developer; it cannot be reviewed by the planning board until a permanent ordinance is in place. No system larger than a quarter-acre will be considered until then, whether for commercial or residential use.

Since the moratorium took effect, the planning board has held workshops on March 29, April 26 and May 24 to review ordinances from other communities as it determines how best to adopt one for Otisfield. Most of the focus has been on one in place in Bethel, but members have also referred to ordinances in other towns including Mechanic Falls, Freeport and Lovell.

“Bethel’s ordinance was the most complete in terms of relevance to our town,” Planning Board Chair Karen Turino said.

The planning board is also drawing on assistance from the Maine Municipal Association and the Androscoggin Valley Counsel of Governments as it navigates the process. Once the board completes its draft, selectmen will forward it to the town’s attorney for review. A special town meeting will be scheduled after that for residents to vote on a final ordinance.

The next workshop will be held on June 14 at the Otisfield Town Office Annex. The next regular planning board meeting will be June 21 at the Otisfield Community Center.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: